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Traditions in a pickle jar

It's pickle-making season. Mumbai never falls short of family-run pickle enterprises that fill jars with as much love as our mothers do. Dhara Vora looked up two such unique enterprises — KT Kubal and Co and Bandra’s Jaffson Pickles and Masalas

KT Kubal & Sons
Best for > Mango and Lime Pickles, Pav Bhaji Masala

Son of KT Kubal, Narayan Kubal has been running the show for 55 years. PICS/ATUL KAMBLE
Son of KT Kubal, Narayan Kubal has been running the show for 55 years. PICS/Atul Kamble

It’s a common sight to come across jars of pickles with the Kubal stamp across kirana and provision stores in the city. These bottles pack as much of history as flavour. Started in 1926, this masala and pickle company was founded by Krishna Tukaram Kubal (after whom the company KT Kubal and Co is named). He was a Gandhiwadi (follower of Mahatma Gandhi) and had participated in India’s struggle for independence, recalls his 75-year-old son Narayan Kubal from his office near Grant Road.

Kubal senior arrived in Mumbai from Konkan, and had started the business of spices and pickles. Kubal tells us that his father went on to set up stores across the city, and even today, the maximum sales are generated from their stores in the city.

While their pickle factory is in Vashi, their masala processing factory still stands in it original spot — Lalbaug. Their highest selling item remains the mango pickle. Other varieties include lime pickle, mixed vegetable pickle, green chilli pickle, garlic pickle and even fish pickle. “We sell a variety of masalas — from ground spices to Sunday Masala.

But we are the pioneers in Pav Bhaji Masala. Since the time Pav Bhaji has been in the city, we have been offering packed Pav Bhaji Masala,” shares Kubal. He has been working in the family business for 55 years and has seen it grow with exports to Gulf countries, Europe, America, Africa and New Zealand, with assistance from his son Shivjeet Kubal.

While Kubal considers themselves as pioneers of Pav Bhaji Masala, mango pickle is their highest selling item.
Log on to: www.kubal-india.com for their outlets

Jaffson
Best for > Carrot and Tendli Pickle, Fish Gravy Masala

While the city is home to several pickle-makers who have been around for decades and centuries, despite being relatively new, this store has an equally endearing story to tell. “It was during my summer vacations in 1985 that my mother thought of doing something to share the financial burden of the family. My father was a BEST bus driver, and
we needed more income to sustain ourselves. My mother realised that it was summer and there weren’t any pickle sellers in the locality, so my brother and I sat with two jars of pickles on a mat on the road and started our business,” reminisces 43-year-old Naeem Jaffer, about the origins of the store.

Owner Naeem Jaffer stands amid shelves neatly lined with a variety of pickles and masalas
Owner Naeem Jaffer stands amid shelves neatly lined with a variety of pickles and masalas

By selling pickles at `1.20 for 100 gms, they were able to earn `39 on the first day and thought this could be a profitable business. Jaffer informs us that the family had not always seen hard times, “My grandfather was the paan (betel leaf) king. He would fly to Pakistan for work in morning and come back the same evening. But then things changed. However, my mother had a business mind, and it’s with her efforts and guidance that we are what we are today.”

The hard work soon led them to experiment, and almost a decade later they were selling 18 to 20 varieties of pickles
from their cart. In 2000, they finally bought their shop on Bazaar Road, which opened for business in 2002. Today, their variety of pickles includes carrot pickle, tendli pickle, chilly pickle, brinjal pickle, karvanda pickle; they make non-vegetarian pickles including prawn, Bombay duck and mutton pickle only on order, “We have Jain and Brahmin customers, and we respect the faith people have in us. So, we don’t stock any in the store,” he says. Jaffson (shortened for Jaffer and Sons) now supplies to nearly 120 stores in the city. They even package their products for overseas sale.

Apart from pickles, they have a masala list that is 45 items long. The variety is tempting: Fish Gravy Masala, Butter Chicken Masala, Chicken Korma Masala, Chicken Mughlai, four types of biryani masala, ginger-garlic pastes, green chilli paste, Vindaloo paste and fried onions or barista. There’s something for ones with sweet tooth too — ready-to-make packets for Rice Kheer and Sheer Korma. Did we mention this shop is also responsible for the success of cricketer Wasim Jaffer who represented India and Mumbai. After all, one of the things the shop was able to do was provide financial support for the training of the youngest Jaffer sibling.

At Rahat Manzil, next to Shia Masjid, Bazaar Road, Bandra (W).
Call 26408684

The other barista

Jaffson understands that people today are always short on time, and apart from offering ready mixes that would help one make difficult dishes without fuss, they also offer fried onions or ‘barista’, which is an essential ingredient in biryani and gravies.

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